Insurance agents need to embrace digitalisation

The insurance industry has been seeing a declining employment trend against online convenience, says AIG M’sia CEO


Insurance agents need to embrace and transform through digitalisation in order to remain relevant, said AIG Malaysia CEO Antony Lee.

Amid fear that automation and digitalisation may cause agents to lose their jobs, Lee believes that people would still need an agent to provide comprehensive overview on insurance packages and coverages that are not accessible online.

He told The Malaysian Reserve that insurance agents need to boost their digital presence and equip themselves with adequate knowledge on different type of coverages available in the market today, mainly driven by the liberalisation of commercial type packages — especially in motor insurance.

“Even immediate developed neighbouring countries such as Singapore still utilise insurance agents as they sell higher value and more complex solutions, which typically revolve around commercial insurance.

“Most of these things still require agents to provide a comprehensive overview on the short- and long-term impact of the packages they subscribe to, which one cannot simply obtain online,” Lee said on the sidelines of the AIG-Lazada Malaysia product launching ceremony in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

Still, Lee said it is those who refuse to embrace the changes might see their careers in jeopardy as the insurance industry has been seeing a declining employment trend against online convenience.

The General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM) figures showed there are just fewer than 39,000 registered general insurance (GI) agents as at Dec 31, 2016, while the total number of agents is about 100,000, according to the Malaysian Employers Federation.

Based on the 2016 data from PIAM, 64% of the GI business in Malaysia is transacted through agents, while 17% comes from direct business channels, and the remaining 19% from insurance brokers and others.

In 2015, 62% of GI in the country was generated by agents, 17% was transacted via direct business channels, and 19% through insurance brokers and others.

Meanwhile, AIG and leading e-commerce platform Lazada solidified their partnership yesterday with the launching of its affordable insurance online to provide a more convenient and seamless purchase of insurance for Malaysians on its platform.

Customers who shop on Lazada are now able to shop from the “freestanding” AIG Shop front to purchase the ‘Travel, Snatch Theft and Personal Accident (Active Life- style Care)” coverage. These premiums will be priced between RM8 and RM115.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, Lee said the partnership is another milestone for AIG to reach out to a very underinsured segment of the market that favours the convenience of purchasing on digital platforms.

“With some 50% of Lazada’s customers aged between 26 and 35 years — it’s within AIG’s target customer segments. The partnership will provide us with the opportunity to better understand our customers’ needs with the right insurance solutions,” he added.

Moreover, Lazada CEO Hans-Peter Ressel said that the e-commerce marketplace is planning to expand its online insurance packages overseas to tap into its global customer base.

“I think our other markets are already very curious of what we are doing here, which is why it is just a matter of time before we roll out similar schemes globally,” Ressel said.

As it is, Malaysia’s GI penetration level stands at less than 2% compared to 3% to 4% in more developed markets.